Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Book Review: Stolen Prey (The Prey Series Book 22) by John Sanford

A Tense Plot with a Humorous Backstory So You Can Catch Your Breath

I’m a long-time, John Sanford fan (full disclosure) and Stolen Prey is another excellent read in the now 28-book series.  This one opens with a grisly, multiple murder of husband, wife, children, and pets in a well-to-do suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Obviously, you’ll need some stomach for violence to get into this story, but if you can handle that, you’ll be rewarded with good action and gripping, didn’t-see-them-coming twists.  Because it is a tale of retaliation by a Mexican drug gang, a host of agencies and individuals become involved – the DEA for what they can learn about the drug cartel; the local police to pursue the murderers; and Lucas Davenport, the protagonist of the series, to pursue the thieves that precipitated events by stealing drug money.  It’s an intricate plot, but Stanford does an excellent job of describing the division of labor and the interplay of these characters and agencies.

Complimenting the main plot is a significant backstory, featuring a cameo by Virgil Flowers (the hero of another Sanford series).  Everything about this secondary tale is custom made to feature Davenport’s generally sarcastic sense of humor, from the (smelly) clues they find to the capture of the bad guys.  It provided a nice counterpoint, a break from the tension.

Most of the early books in the series involved demented, serial killers, and like many, that’s where I developed my interest in this author.  Stolen Prey strays from that theme, and the story suffers as a result … but only slightly.  For example, the development of the characters of the three Mexican killers, while less about psychosis and more about a way of life, is solid.  There is also a touching father/daughter moment, where Lucas and Letty, his adopted daughter, bond at the shooting range.  Makes me wonder if this is a preview for a series to come?

Overall, Stolen Prey diverges from Sanford’s bread-and-butter, serial-killer theme, but it’s still excellent, with a tense, action-filled plot and a humorous backstory so you can catch your breath.

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